identity theft victim

Tax ID theft victims now can see fake filings

Westchester NY accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s is here for all your financial needs. Please contact us if you have questions, and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

By Bankrate

Repairing the damage done when a criminal steals your identity is a complex, time-consuming and exasperating exercise.

Tax ID theft victims can now see the fake return that had been filed in their names (and Social Security numbers).

When your ID is used to commit tax return fraud, you face an additional level of frustration because of the Internal Revenue Service’s strict rules regarding privacy.

The IRS, however, has come to realize that some taxpayer data needs to be shared to fight tax identity thieves. The federal tax agency announced in October that it, its state counterparts and tax industry partners now will share more filing information among themselves in their continuing efforts to stop tax ID theft and return fraud.

Now the IRS says it will share some information about fraudulent filings with the victims whose identities were used on the fake 1040s.

Victims want to know

“We know that identity theft is a frustrating process for victims, and we are taking aggressive steps to stop fraudulent returns before they are processed,” the IRS says on its website. “We understand victims want to know more about the information used on the fraudulent returns using their Social Security number.”

Such victims now can request a copy of the fraudulent federal return filed in their names.

However, the IRS isn’t throwing out all its privacy rules. Some of the information on fraudulent returns sent to tax ID theft victims will be blacked out.

In addition, the IRS is not releasing copies of identity theft returns that it is still working to resolve.

And only individuals whose names and Social Security numbers are listed on the fraudulent return as either the primary or secondary taxpayers can request a copy of the fake document. That means if you (or one of your children) are listed as a dependent on a fraudulent return, you won’t be able to get a copy of that filing.

Written request required

If you do qualify to get a copy of a return that was illegally filed under your name and Social Security number, the IRS has created a special Web page with details on how to do so.

Basically, you’ll need to send the IRS a letter that includes:

  • Your name and Social Security number,
  • Your mailing address,
  • The tax year or years requested, and
  • The statement, “I declare that I am the taxpayer.”

To back up your declaration that you are the real you, you’ll need to include a copy of your government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

The IRS says it will acknowledge any request within 30 days after it receives it. You should get a copy of the fraudulent return, or any follow-up correspondence, within 90 days.

Psychological rather than practical relief

So what good will such information do a tax identity theft victim? The dirty deed is done and you can’t change that.

You can, however, get an idea of just what kind of personal information was stolen, or at least used on the fake refund.

And that’s a valuable part of an identity theft victim’s recovery process.

The best defense against identity theft is a good offense. You should be aware of who’s looking at your personal data.

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford Hills NY, Chappaqua NY, Harrison NY, Scarsdale NY, White Plains NY, Mt. Kisco NY, Pound Ridge NY, Greenwich CT and beyond.

Tax-Related Identity Theft Is Exploding – What Is The IRS Doing And What Can You Do?

While identity theft continues to present a great burden to businesses, organizations and governments including the IRS, it’s individual victims are left to bear the lions share.  In the past few years tax-related identity theft has become rampant.  Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information including your social security number to file a tax return and claim a refund.  The IRS paid out 5.8 billion in falsely claimed refunds in 2013.

For what it’s worth, the IRS has ramped up its efforts to combat identity theft.  Some of the steps the IRS is taking include:

  • Identify new steps to validate taxpayer and the tax return information at the time of filing, such as reviewing transmission of the tax return including improper and repetitive use of internet protocol numbers, internet address from where the return originated, computer device identification data tied to the return’s origin.
  • Sharing of suspected identity fraud information and analytics from the tax industry to identify fraud schemes and locate indicators of fraud patterns
  • Increased taxpayer communication regarding identity theft

But is this enough to protect against potential tax-related identity theft?   I don’t think so. Remember that in a tax-related identity theft typically the perpetrator has already obtained, from other sources, your social security number, birth date, address, etc.

This past filing season we have had the unhappy task of telling a handful of clients that they likely have become an identity theft victim.  When we electronically submit a return and the IRS rejects it because a return for the taxpayer has already been filed, this is a case of identity theft.

So here are some of the things you should do to protect yourself against identity theft.

Know the warning signs

  • You do not receive your refund within 20-30 days after filing your tax return.
  • You receive an IRS letter or notice in the mail that indicates that
    • You owe additional tax,
    • Your refund has been offset to pay for additional tax,
    • You have collection action taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return,
    • More than one tax return was filed for you,
  • You receive a call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent or officer.

Note that the IRS will never make contact with you via phone or e-mail.  The IRS only sends mail correspondence in order to communicate with taxpayers.

 

Reduce your risks

  • Don’t carry your social security card or any document with your social security number on it.
  • Do not give your social security number to someone just because they ask – unless it is absolutely necessary and you know who is asking and know they have a valid reason for asking.
  • Regularly check your credit report – possibly annually. A credit report can be obtained from www.annualcreditreport.com, or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228, or by completing an Annual Credit Report request form and mail to: Annual Credit Report, Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
  • Review your bank and credit card statements regularly.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls, anti-spam/virus software, update security patches and change passwords for internet accounts frequently.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone or via mail unless you have initiated the call/correspondence or are sure you know who is asking.
  • Protect your personal financial information at home and on your computer, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having work done in your home.
  • Do not ever respond to any phone call, e-mail, text message, social media channels, or any type of electronic communication, from anyone claiming to be an IRS agent/officer. The IRS initiates contact with taxpayers by mail only. Contact us before you share any information with any individual claiming to be from the IRS or any other tax authorities.
  • If you are not currently affected by identity theft, but you may be at risk because your wallet/purse was stolen, or you have questionable credit card activity, contact the IRS Identity Theft Hotline at 1-800-908-4490.

Steps you should take if you do become a victim of identity theft

  • Contact us if you believe you have become a victim of identity theft.
  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice that you have received by regular mail (assuming you have received one).  Call only the number provided in the notice.
  • Contact IRS Identity Theft Hotline at 1-800-908-4490.
  • Complete and submit to the IRS, Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit.
  • Continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return even if you must do so on paper.
  • Contact your state tax authorities to see if identity theft has impacted your state tax filings.
  • Contact one of the three major credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert’ on your credit records:

Don’t become a victim of identity theft. Be aware that this is an exploding problem.  Protect yourself to avoid becoming an identity theft victim.

If you have any questions or concerns about identity theft, please contact us.

Herman & Company CPA’s proudly serves Bedford Hills NY, Chappaqua NY, Harrison NY, Larchmont NY, Rye NY, Scarsdale NY, White Plains NY, Mt. Kisco NY, Pound Ridge NY, Bronx, Manhattan, Greenwich CT and beyond.

 

Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.